ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Another week of football in the MIAC, another showdown between undefeated, highly-regarded teams. So it goes in the conference this season.
After knocking off previously-unbeaten Augsburg at home in a 31-28 thriller a week ago, fifth-ranked Bethel remained undefeated itself at 4-0 overall (2-0 MIAC). The Royals' reward? Another showdown with an undefeated opponent. This time it's No. 18-ranked Concordia, which is also 4-0 overall (2-0 MIAC). The Cobbers, which are coming off a bye, and the Royals are the final two unbeatens and, after Saturday, only one will remain atop the conference standings.
As if the showdown needed any more drama, it's also a rematch of one of the most controversial finishes in the MIAC and Division III in recent memory. A year ago, Concordia appeared to have stopped Bethel on the final play of the game, but a premature celebration on the field led to a penalty and one final untimed down. The Royals turned that opportunity into a touchdown and a two-point conversion to score a one-point win and, later in the season, a trip to the NCAA Division III Playoffs.
All that adds up to a can't-miss matchup in Moorhead Saturday
between two teams with similar profiles. Both are stout
defensively. Concordia allows 17.5 points and 342.2 yards per game,
while Bethel gives up 18.2 points and 312 yards per game.
LB Seth Mathis and DB Josh
Treimer lead a talented Royals defense, while the
Cobbers count on pressure from MIAC sack (3.5) and
tackles-for-a-loss (8.5) leader Nate
Both also feature talented QBs who have ramped up a pair of
offenses that typically do their damage on the ground.
Bethel's Erik Peterson leads the MIAC
with 250.8 passing yards per game and a 71.7 completion percentage,
while Concordia's Griffin Neal throws
for 204.0 yards per game and ranks ninth in the league in rushing
(56.8 yard per game. Bethel benefits from a pair of talented backs
Marquardt and Marshall Klitzke,
and has veteran receivers, while Concordia has gotten countless big
plays from standout wideout Brandon
Zylstra this fall.
The undefeated, top-25 showdown between Bethel and the Cobbers will certainly be one of the top games to watch all season, and the outcome could go a long way towards deciding both the MIAC's champion, and the NCAA playoff picture. And if the Royals emerge victorious over an unbeaten foe for the second-straight week, their daunting October keeps on rolling, as they host sixth-ranked St. Thomas in the MIAC's next humongous game a week from Saturday.
While many of the MIAC's watchful eyes will be aimed at Moorhead Saturday, there are certainly other intriguing games around the league. No. 25-ranked Saint John's (4-1, 2-1 MIAC) - back in the top 25 after handling St. Olaf 31-0 a week ago, hosts (RV) Augsburg (3-1, 2-1 MIAC) in a matchup of one-loss teams looking to stay in title and postseason contention. The Auggies have won two in a row against Saint John's, and will try to make it three in a row for the first time since the 1920s.
The MIAC's biggest surprise thus far - Gustavus (3-1, 2-1 MIAC)
- will find out exactly how far it's come after winning its last
two games by a combined score of 97-26. The Gusties host No.
6-ranked St. Thomas (3-1, 1-1 MIAC), which looked like its old self
again in a dominant 65-6 win over Carleton Saturday. The Tommies
will want another solid performance with Bethel looming the
following week, but they'll have to slow down Gustavus scoring
machine Jeffrey Dubose, who is fresh off a 5
In the fourth conference game of the weekend, St. Olaf (1-4, 0-3 MIAC) hosts Hamline (1-3, 0-3 MIAC) in a matchup of teams who are looking to gain their first conference win of 2013. It should be an interesting matchup of contrasting styles, as Piper RB Austin Duncan leads the MIAC with 163.2 rushing yards per game, while QB Nate Penz and the Ole passing attack will take to the air against Hamline.
In the only nonconference game on the schedule, Carleton (2-2, 1-2 MIAC) and Macalester (2-2) will meet in St. Paul in a storied rivalry showdown with "The Book of Knowledge" trophy on the line. Mason Schnarr leads the Knights defense in the rivalry game, as the linebacker is tied for second in the conference with 41 total tackles. Carleton will try to help the MIAC improve to 14-1 against nonconference competition thus far in 2013.
The MIAC thanks Supreme Images Photography for contributing graphics for the MIAC Football Preview throughout the season.
Sat. Oct. 12
CONCORDIA GOES BACK-TO-BACK FOR MIAC
Eight highlights from each MIAC team in action Saturday again
competed for the title of MIAC Play-of-the-Week. This week, the eight
clips received a total of 271 votes and 1,711 views on YouTube. Six
of the eight clips got at least 200 views, and each received at
least 156 looks.
Carleton linebacker Mason Schnarr has made a lot of big plays this fall, and his latest was honored as the MIAC Play-of-the-Week. Schnarr's leaping interception in the Knights' loss at No. 6 St. Thomas received 33 percent of the vote this week (91 votes) to beat out Gustavus (64 votes, 23 percent) for the Play-of-the-Week title. It's the first defensive play to win the MIAC honor, and the first for a Carleton player after Concordia's Brandon Zylstra won the first two awards.
MIAC MEDIA FOOTBALL COVERAGE
MIAC Weekly podcast Host Mike Gallagher talked MIAC football in his conference roundup, and he was joined by Gustavus Head Football Coach Peter Haugen to talk about the Gusties' recent success.
MIAC IN THE POLLS
The MIAC continues to make waves in the national rankings, this time with four teams ranked in the top 25. The AFCA Division III Coaches' Poll features four MIAC teams, with Bethel ranked No. 8, St. Thomas at No. 12, Concordia jumped five spots to No. 18 and Saint John's re-entered the rankings at No. 25. Augsburg also remains in the "Others receiving votes" section.
The same five teams also received votes in the D3football.com poll. Only three are in the top 25, but the teams at the top are ranked higher. The Royals are ranked fifth with the Tommies right behind in sixth. The Cobbers check in at No. 22 this week, and the Auggies is the third team in the "Others receiving votes" section with the Johnnies another three spots behind.
MIAC IN THE PRESS
Here's a look at the top MIAC football stories in the media over the past week.
10/5/2013 Bethel holds off rally from Augsburg for the
win - Bring Me The News
10/5/2013 Reusse: Bethel survives scare by Auggies and their QB - Star Tribune
10/5/2013 MIAC roundup: Gustavus rips Hamline - Star Tribune
10/5/2013 St. John's, Bruns pass by St. Olaf - St. Cloud Times
Gustavus' Jeffrey Dubose has one of the league' s top offensive performances of the season to claim MIAC Football Offensive Player-of-the-Week honors. Dubose had 215 total yards (200 rushing, 15 receiving) and five touchdowns in his big performance. The other two honors were claimed by Bethel teammates for their role in the Royals' huge win over Augsburg. Defensive back Josh Treimer was named the MIAC Football Defensive Player-of-the-Week thanks to his team-high 10 tackles and forced fumble in the win. Kicker Andrew O'Reilly was 4-for-4 on PATs and his 31-yard field goal was the difference on the scoreboard to help him earn his second-straight MIAC Football Special Teams Player-of-the-Week honor.
Treimer was also named to the D3football.com Team-of-the-Week for his role in Bethel's big win over Augsburg.
IN THE TRENCHES
The Saint John's offensive line played a huge role in the Johnnies' 31-0 win at St. Olaf Saturday, as the Johnnies racked up 239 rushing yards, 517 total yards and 31 points en route to the win. SJU's rushing total came on 47 carries - good for a 5.1 average - and the Johnnies had two backs run for 98 yards or more. In the passing game, SJU's front didn't allow a sack on 34 dropbacks. The starters up front for Saint John's were center Tony Yost, guards Ross Carlson and Rob Sybrant and tackles Alex Jarosz and Jack Hedlund.
After a week off, the Tommie defensive front returned to its dominant ways with a stifling performance in UST's 65-6 win over Carleton. UST allowed just 29 rushing yards on 19 attempts (1.5 average) and just 153 total yards in the win. The St. Thomas defensive front helped pressure the Knights into three interceptions, and the UST defense made six stops behind the line of scrimmage. The Tommies' starters up front were nose tackle Sam Pokornowski and defensive ends Josh Corbin and Riley Dombek.
BY THE NUMBERS
4 - Number of MIAC teams currently ranked in the AFCA Division III Coaches' Poll Top 25. A fifth sits just outside the Top 25 in the "Others receiving votes" section.
72 - Points scored by Gustavus RB Jeffrey Dubose this season after adding 5 TDs (215 total yards) in the Gusties' win over Hamline Saturday. Dubose leads all other MIAC players by 30 points.
26 - Solo tackles by Saint John's Andrew Rose this season, the most in the MIAC.
39.4 - Yards per punt average for Carleton's Brandt Davis, which leads the MIAC. His seven fair catches and eight punts inside the 20 also lead the league.
78 - Percent of fourth downs successfully converted by Concordia this season. The Cobbers are 7-for-9 when they roll the dice on fourth down.
17 - Penalties by Bethel thus far in 2013, the least in the MIAC.